Some have the mistaken impression that the Great Depression greatly discouraged commercialization. With the lack of earnings by most workers, it is assumed that marketing was suppressed until more prosperous days.
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What happened was quite the contrary. Less money in the market only intensified the fight for fewer dollars. Marketing became bolder and more frenetic.
This was especially evident in radio broadcasting. Advertisers in the thirties began to demand that broadcasters change the rules and allow them to peddle their goods more intensely to poorer consumers. It was boom time for advertisers even while producers struggled to survive.
An article in the September 1932 Fortune magazine at the time observed that a profound change came over the radio market. Before the Depression, “radio was polite. Radio was genteel. Radio was the guest in the home, not the salesman on the doorstep.”
As the Depression progressed, advertising exploded over the airwaves. Radio network revenue from commercials rose 316 percent between 1928 and 1934. Above all, the ads became hard-selling and brazen. The restraint of polite manners was thrown off and prepared the way for the frenetic intemperance that would follow when prosperity returned.